July 31, 2005
Thieves Target Retail
Organized crime has gone domestic. Gangs and crime rings now shoplift razors, prescription drugs, CDs, DVDs, and my favorite, hair-growth products. Yes, there's an black market to help balding men. The Washington Post reports:
Retailers and theft experts say criminals have discovered that large profits can be made relatively easily, and without much risk, by stealing merchandise from crowded, understaffed stores. They say the most stolen items tend to be high-priced, widely used products that are routinely sold in chain stores: over-the-counter medicines, razors, film, CDs and DVDs, baby formula, diapers, batteries, hair-growth and smoking-cessation products, hardware, tools, designer clothes and electronics.
America's car-friendly road system and its resultant sprawl of retail centers not only conveniences shoppers but makes it easy for thieves to hop from store to store before a retail chain notices they've been struck.
Department stores and drug stores aren't the only targets. Bookstores are also targets. They contain small valuable items that can quickly be resold or "returned" for cash or other more-easily sold merchandise.
Much of the problem is pointed out in the Post story. Stores are understaffed. The ceaseless desire for maintaining profit margins, keeping labor costs down, and not raising prices for fickle, internet-informed consumers makes stores vulernable to shoplifting. It also doesn't help if the government isn't talking shoplifting seriously. An anti-theft official for Walgreens, Jerry Biggs has one example:
"I'm going after a guy right now that's been arrested 56 times," Walgreen's Biggs said. "I've got to put together a case that can show this isn't your typical little shoplifter."
You'd think after the third time the police or a prosecutor would have taken this seriously.
"Retail Gangs: A New Breed of Thieves"